On books

The progression of the digital age is changing what will become the cultural objects that mark our time. In 50 years, will passing on a 1st edition Kindle to ones children hold the same significance as passing on a 1st edition Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? What about a vinyl copy of The Wall versus an iPod loaded with the entire Pink Floyd back-catalog?

As the digital age makes it easier to access and share information, does the value in physical embodiments of these things reduce? Who would buy a 26-volume encyclopedia today when they could search wikipedia in an instant?

A common sentiment at BookCamp and beyond is that you can’t replace the experience of holding a book. Whilst 1000’s of people may read a book, few will read the same book, the same physical embodiment of the text with all of its history and experience worn into its patina.

There are many sites that help socialise the experience of reading a book - I have recently started to use bkkeepr but have also tried out LibraryThing. They are good for keeping a record of what you’ve read and what your friends have read but I can’t help feel they are missing something when it comes to the physicality of books. More on this, maybe, another day.

For now, here’s what triggered me to write this today. Whilst books are important, sometimes ‘progress’ is inevitable.

Stephen Fry on books